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The Nature of the Principal Type 1 Interferon-Producing Cells in Human Blood

Science  11 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5421, pp. 1835-1837
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5421.1835

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Abstract

Interferons (IFNs) are the most important cytokines in antiviral immune responses. “Natural IFN-producing cells” (IPCs) in human blood express CD4 and major histocompatibility complex class II proteins, but have not been isolated and further characterized because of their rarity, rapid apoptosis, and lack of lineage markers. Purified IPCs are here shown to be the CD4+CD11c type 2 dendritic cell precursors (pDC2s), which produce 200 to 1000 times more IFN than other blood cells after microbial challenge. pDC2s are thus an effector cell type of the immune system, critical for antiviral and antitumor immune responses.

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